Assaulting a police officer is a serious crime in New Jersey. Police and prosecutors often prosecute these crimes aggressively, asking for high penalties to protect officers and other police personnel on their side of the “thin blue line.” If you or a loved one was charged with assaulting a police officer in Atlantic City or anywhere in South Jersey, it is vital to talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case as soon as you can.
The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City assault on a police officer attorneys represent defendants charged with assaulting a police officer and other serious crimes in New Jersey. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case and to get help understanding your rights and potential penalties, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Charges for Assaulting a Police Officer in New Jersey
The crime of assaulting a police officer covers a wide range of attacks or fights involving a police officer. The following are all common examples of when assaulting a police officer might be charged:
- A defendant intentionally attacks a cop
- Police break up protests and put themselves in aggressive situations
- Police attempt to break up a fight and get hit
- While resisting arrest, a defendant strikes or hits a police officer
In some of these scenarios, charges for assault on a police officer may seem “trumped up,” and charges for resisting arrest or obstruction of justice may be far more appropriate. In many cases, the first instinct for someone being arrested is to fight back and maintain their physical freedom. Even if the arrest was the result of police brutality or unreasonable use of force, you may still face charges for assaulting a police officer and need to fight those charges in court.
Assault on a Police Officer N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1(b)(5)(a)
The crime of assault in New Jersey is defined as any attempt to cause bodily injury to another person. This crime can also include negligent injury using a deadly weapon or physical intimidation (“physical menace”) used to put someone in fear of bodily harm. This kind of assault would be classified as “simple assault,” but more severe “aggravated assault” charges are available when the defendant causes more serious harm, uses a deadly weapon, or attacks certain individuals.
Police officers and other law enforcement officers are a “protected class” under this statute. This means that any simple assault on a police officer is automatically upgraded to aggravated assault, even if the police officer did not suffer serious harm or there was only a mere attempt to hit the officer resulting in no physical injuries. This offense is codified under N.J.S.A. § 2C:12(b)(5)(a).
In addition to hitting or attempting to hit a police officer, you can also face aggravated assault charges for assaulting a police officer if you point a firearm at a cop. The prosecutors must prove that you pointed a firearm under one of the following circumstances to use these charges against you:
- You had “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when you pointed the firearm at the officer
- You intended to “intimidate, threaten or attempt to put the officer in fear of bodily injury” or had any other “unlawful purpose” when you pointed the gun at a police officer
- You pointed a laser sight at an officer.
Penalties for Assaulting a Cop in New Jersey
The penalties for aggravated assault are different depending on how the offense was committed. In New Jersey, simple assault is usually graded as a “disorderly persons offense.” This is similar to a misdemeanor in other states and is punished by up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. Other crimes are graded as fourth through first degree “indictable crimes,” carrying possible penalties of over a year in jail in each case. These are similar to felonies.
Simple assault on a police officer is automatically upgraded to aggravated assault, but the penalties are not always severe. If you do not actually cause any bodily injury to the officer, the crime should be graded as a fourth degree crime carrying up to 18 months in prison and fines up to $10,000. If you do cause injury, the crime is a third degree crime with 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
Aggravated assault for pointing a weapon or laser sight at a police officer is typically charged as a third degree crime. This also carries 3-5 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
Fortunately, many cases of third and fourth degree crimes are not punished with prison sentences, and instead use probation. If this was your first offense, you may also be able to seek reduced penalties or even get the charges dropped. However, police and prosecutors often pursue charges for violence against police very seriously, and you may need a sophisticated criminal defense team to protect your rights and reduce charges.
Call Our Atlantic City Defense Lawyer for Charges of Assault Against a Police Officer
If you or a loved one is facing charges for assaulting a police officer in Atlantic City, contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City assault on a police officer defense lawyers offer free legal consultations to help you with your case and fight to get charges dropped and reduced. To schedule your free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.